Eight Tips for Better Relationships with Distributors

September 2004
by Jen Linck

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1. Have reasonable expectations. Approximately 150,000 new books are published every year. A publisher must earn the right to get its books onto the crowded bookstore shelves by establishing a reputation for quality products and reliable marketing success. Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes, knowing that they will judge your performance by sell-through. Why should a bookseller take a chance on an untested publisher and an unknown author? This is a question from buyers that your distributor’s sales rep will have to answer, so provide all the relevant facts that you have and recognize that they may not be strong enough to overcome self-protective sales resistance.

2. Communicate in a clear and timely fashion. Keep your distributor up to date about your marketing and publicity and send an e-mail if you schedule a major national event–the earlier the better. Find out how your distributor likes to receive information and respect those preferences as much as possible. It’s always a good idea to include the basics–title, ISBN, author, and publisher–on anything you send. Your distributor has many clients, and you want to make it as easy as possible for staff to pass information along to the sales force and buyers.

3. Understand your distributor’s motivation. Distributors are in an interesting position because they have two customers–the publishers and the accounts–and a distributor mu…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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